Gaslighting Phrases Everyone Should Know About

By
Relationships A-Z
10 Apr 2023
10 min read
16 Most Common Gaslighting Phrases

Falling in love is the easiest part, but it takes a lot of effort and patience to grow and maintain a healthy and stable relationship. This task becomes almost impossible if your partner keeps devaluing everything you said with gaslighting phrases.

If you want a relationship that ends up happily ever after, you need to protect yourself from mental and emotional abuse. Gaslighting is one of its methods, being a cruel habit that toxic partners use to assert dominance in their relationship. Learn these key gaslighting phrases to timely track and adequately react on this form of abuse.

Gaslighting threatens the mental health of a partner

Gaslighting is a Form of Emotional Torture

Gaslighting works by invalidating the emotions of the victim. It makes them question their sense of reality and decision-making abilities. This way, it is a form of emotional abuse that ruins healthy relationships and makes them toxic.

The key problem with gaslighting phrases is that they sound neutral and don’t make the victim even slightly doubt their validity. Used by one or both partners, they regularly threaten sanity and safety of a person. When it’s regular, they become a dangerous form of emotional abuse, as serious as physical harm or financial torture. That’s why it’s important to timely detect and learn how to react to any gaslighting phrases that your partner might use, either in daily conversations or during a disagreement.

How Does Gaslighting Work?

Gaslighting is a very toxic and bad behavior, and it is important to understand how it manifests in our romantic relationships. Generally, this common tactic of mistreatment works by shifting the blame to the victim and convincing them that their own perceptions and understanding are wrong.

“Gaslighting is the use of a patterned, repetitive set of manipulation tactics that makes someone question reality. It’s often used by people with narcissistic personality disorder, abusive individuals, cult leaders, criminals, and dictators.”

Meaghan Rice, PsyD., LPC

Gaslighting is an abuse tactic because it ruins a person’s self-esteem, confuses them, and messes with their sanity. There are five major techniques of gaslighting by The National Domestic Violence Hotline:

  • Denial or intentional forgetting
  • Countering
  • Trivializing
  • Blocking or diverting
  • Stonewalling/silent treatment.

Gaslighting phrases will make the victim feel confused, upset, anxious, depressed and doubting themselves and their perceptions. It’s very hard to detect signs of gaslighting in a relationship. Still, the effects tend to be long-term and detrimental. So if you are a victim, it’s highly likely that it has been happening for a long time.

16 Common Gaslighting Phrases in a Relationship

A gaslighter is a manipulative person (not always a narcissist!) who uses their words to transform scenarios for their benefit at the expense of their partner’s mental health. If you feel your partner is twisting your words, lets you question your sanity, and heavily relies on sarcasm, jibes, or deniability, you might be dealing with a gaslighter. As such, it’s important to learn common gaslighting phrases so you can detect all the red flags early.

1. Stop Being So Insecure!

Gaslighters are very good at manipulation games, and they can easily shift the blame to their victim.

“Gaslighting techniques radically undermine another person that she has nowhere left to stand from which to disagree, no standpoint from which her words might constitute genuine disagreement.”

Matthew Zawadzki, PhD

Each time you bring up an issue about them, they’ll make you feel bad for raising it. Since they don’t want to change anything about themselves or their behavior, it’s easier to plant seeds of self doubt by calling you insecure.

2. You’re Being Paranoid

When a person says something like this, it shows their own emotional disconnect. Being caught doing something wrong, they will deny it, refuse to accept your thoughts and opinion on the issue and make you the bad guy for catching them in the act.

Their obvious lack of empathy reflects in their disregard for your inquiries and opinions. In such a scenario, they will try to convince you that you’re imagining things and that your feelings and reactions are inappropriate.

3. You Are Way Too Emotional

You have to understand that a gaslighter lacks empathy, and they will never own up to their actions. This subtle phrase is meant to highlight your emotions as a weakness and something to be ashamed of.

Even though your reaction might be appropriate and justified, a manipulator will always make you feel bad for expressing your emotions.

4. Please Stop Being Dramatic

In most societies, females are raised to prioritize other people’s feelings over their own. This means that women are more susceptible to gaslighting in both romantic and platonic relationships.

“Women were trained to long and hunger for relationships and connection, a conditioning that made them vulnerable to exploitation of their attachment, which is exactly what gaslighting is.”

Gertrude Zemon Gass, PhD and William C. Nichols EdD [cited in Vox]

A gaslighter will put in the effort to invalidate your reactions by making them seem like an overreaction or a dramatic response. As such, the victim will start to question their own judgment.

Gaslighting makes you question what's going on in your relationships

5. You’re Making Things Up

The height of gaslighting must be an individual who tries to cheat you of your own memories and reality, right? Well, this phrase has the intention of questioning your sense of reality.

Most manipulators will use narcissist gaslighting phrases to deny how you feel. In turn, this starts to mess up your perception of things and increases self-doubt. Regardless of how much you explain your thoughts, they will put in the effort to convince you that your feelings are wrong and irrelevant.

Some people even go as far as making you question your memories and reality. In such cases, you’re left wondering whether stuff really happened or not. This is considered one of the most lethally effective gaslighting phrases since it has the ability to drive you borderline insane and make you feel small.

Regardless of how convinced you are, your partner’s behavior and words will push you into questioning yourself.

Well Pretend This Never Happened Herbert Garrison GIF - Well Pretend This Never Happened Herbert Garrison Eric Cartman GIFs

6. That Never Happened

Right next to questioning your reality, a manipulator will try to convince their gaslighting victims that they are crazy. While such statements might seem completely harmless and inconsequential, they tend to wreak havoc when used with consistency.

This common gaslighting technique only proves that manipulators hold zero regard for your mental and emotional well-being and would do anything to cover their tracks. If someone is always trying to recreate your reality and memories, then they don’t love or respect you at all.

7. You Are Overthinking This

This is a common gaslighting tactic that serves to stonewall the victim. The technique is used by manipulators to avoid speculation and inquiries into an issue or its actions.

It is easy to let go of something when they are regarded as overthinking. In addition, the victim is more likely to drop the issue because they are trying to safeguard their mental and emotional health. This common gaslighting technique is prominent in intimate relationships that require accountability.

8. Stop Exaggerating

This abuse technique tends to attack your ability to think and act rationally. When you’re dating a narcissist, you might hear this phrase a couple of times because they will always accuse you of wanting to blow things out of proportion and putting words in their mouths. With this phrase, they will always treat your concerns as trivial and exaggerated.

“I think of gaslighting as trying to associate someone with the label ‘crazy’. It’s making someone seem or feel unstable, irrational and not credible, making them feel like what they’re seeing or experiencing isn’t real, that they’re making it up, that no one else will believe them.”

Paige Sweet, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Michigan

While both partners know that the situation was not exaggerated, the gaslighter will use such common gaslighting phrases to deflect responsibility and get their way.

9. Stop Taking It Too Seriously

When a gaslighter uses such a phrase, their goal is, again, to invalidate your emotions. They plant seeds of doubt about your decision-making, even after they say hurtful things.

“We should treat all the trivial things of life very seriously, and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality.”

Oscar Wilde

Related reading: Relationship Advice for Women That Will Help Your Love Life

If someone truly loves you, they’ll treat each of your concerns with utmost seriousness. However, when a person is always steering away from your concerns and deciding what is serious and what isn’t, you might be a victim of gaslighting abusers. Sadly, the only things gaslighters care for is self-gratification.

Gaslighters will pretend they were joking while you're crying

10. Why Can’t You Take a Joke?

This is a common gaslighting phrase where your partner will wrong you by saying hurtful and harmful things, then say it’s just a joke afterward.

For instance, they might make a nasty comment regarding your looks or style. And if you’re visibly hurt, they will say it was nothing but a harmless joke. Such types of gaslighting phrases are used to cloak insensitive and cruel remarks as humor.

This phrase is meant to question your ability to take a joke, meaning that your gaslighting partner can always blame your sense of humor.

11. You Are Misunderstanding My Intentions

People who have mastered the art of twisting things to their advantage will find a way to label every concern as a result of your misunderstanding. The most common variations of this “misunderstanding” statement include:

  • “That is not what I meant”
  • “You are spinning things out of context”
  • “I don’t remember saying it that way”
  • “That was not my intention, stop blaming me”

This defensive manipulative tactic is meant to shift the blame toward the victim. Since they don’t care for your feelings and are deflecting, they use white lies, play dumb and cut further explanations to make themselves sound honest. While this tactic might be subtle, it will leave the victim wondering whether they are in the wrong for raising an issue.

It'S Not A Big Deal. GIF - Not A Big Deal Its Not A Big Deal Will Smith GIFs

12. Stop Making It a Big Deal

Gaslighters love to be defensive and will always trivialize any concern you might have about their actions. Gaslighters accuse you of blowing things out of proportion just because you raised an uncomfortable topic for them.

13. You Need to Lose Weight

Gaslighters love to always be the dominant partner, and thus they result in psychological abuse to fulfill the strong sense of power.

In this case, they need their victim to depend on them for love and validation. To achieve this kind of dependence, they result in criticizing the physical appearance of their partner and making hurtful comments that will deepen their self doubt and ruin their body image.

14. Let’s Start Over from Square One

Gaslighters manipulate their victims into questioning their own reality so they can avoid accepting and working on their shortcomings. Since they would do anything to avoid accountability, they’ll always insist on starting over so that they can ignore their mistakes and start afresh.

While they get to deny reality and live in their own world, the emotionally abused partner is stuck in a toxic romantic relationship.

15. I Think You Need Help

While this phrase is often used by people with good intentions, a manipulative partner can use it to dent the self confidence of their victim.

This is one of the most common phrases people use to shift blame from themselves at the expense of their partner’s emotional well-being.

16. I am Not the Problem. You Are

This is one of the most lethal and effective gaslighting phrases that could break a victim of gaslighting. A gaslighter will use projection to safeguard their own feelings by eroding the self esteem of their victim.

Can You Tell When You’re Being Gaslit?

You can tell your partner is a gaslight if they are always blaming you, questioning your sanity, are overcritical of your actions, and second-guess all your moves. If you think some manipulation tactic among mentioned above might be the case, reach out for guidance and help.

In some cases, these common gaslighting phrases might be used unintentionally and without any malice. Such a statement can be brushed off when it only happens once. Most people don’t even realize that a phrase like “it was only a joke” is considered gaslighting.

Take-Away Notes

Most people are unable to tell when they are being gaslit, meaning they are stuck in toxic and manipulative relationships. A gaslighter will always have to question your own beliefs, and they even try to erase or recreate your own memory.

Gaslighting is not always a control technique, but it can also be an indicator of deep-running psychological issues that the abuser is struggling with. Please do not hesitate to reach out for help if you think you’re in such a relationship.

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